Weight Watchers was my Gateway diet.
When I said that I wanted to lose weight, both my mother and my doctor thought that WW was the healthiest way. It was perceived to be a ‘lifestyle’ not a ‘fat diet’ so only good could come.
When I went to Weight Watchers they accepted me with open arms and the only measurement that they took was my weight. Nobody looked at my blood sugars, or my blood pressure. Nobody assessed my mental health, or my self-esteem. Nobody screened me for anxiety or depression. Nobody gave me a questionnaire like EAT-26 to see if I had any disordered eating. I was not screened for an eating disorder. Not by my doctor and not by Weight Watchers.
The reason none of this happened then and why none of it happens now is because we believe that health and weight are the same thing. Weight bias is alive and well. We believe that if someone wants to lose weight and get healthy that we should support them. After all, we are at war with Obesity. It doesn’t even occur to us to look under the hood and see what’s really going on.
Here’s where I could launch into a whole HAES discussion about the damage of promoting weight stigma. But I won’t. Because if you only speak Diet Culture then you won’t follow my argument at all. And, you may even take a very defensive stance about weight and health and all of their relationships. So let’s not. Let’s stick to the fluency of Diet Culture.
Fact: We are dieting ourselves fat.
Yes it’s true. Repeatedly research has shown that Intentional Weight Loss is a steady and consistent predictor for weight gain.
Our intentions for the weight loss are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if you’re motivation is health or vanity. The end result is that those who are trying to lose weight now are very likely to weigh more later.
We don’t like to talk about this research. There’s the conspiracy theories around the weight-loss industries investment in keeping us in this deadly cycle. And I won’t deny having a foot in that camp.
But the far more pervasive reason is that we don’t want people to give up on their health. And since we believe that health and weight are the same, we conclude that if we stop trying to lose weight we stop trying to be healthy. We keep pushing out study after study warning us of the dangers of excess fat. And if we tell people that their efforts at weight loss are futile then our obesity crisis is only going to get worse.
Let me circle back to the language fluency here. Diet Culture is a language that only knows weight loss. It’s the only solution. We keep changing the language, and we keep repurposing old ‘fad diets’ (Atkins) into ‘healthy lifestyles’ (Keto), but in the end it’s always the same.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” is a quote attributed to Einstein.
It became abundantly clear to me that Diet Culture was never going to get me what I wanted. I was never going to get to my goal weight and stay there. I was never going to feel safe and comfortable with food or with my body if I didn’t learn a new language.
So I learned the language of Intuitive Eating. Much to my delight, it was actually my native tongue. I was born speaking Intuitively. But I was also born into a world that spoke Diet Culture. And so I became fluent in Diet Culture and adopted it as my primary language.
I only wish that Mom had learned her native language before I stepped into WW that first time. She could’ve shared it with me and it would have saved me decades of weight cycling; decades of guilt and shame for my body and my food choices; decades of feeling like a failure. Maybe, just maybe, she could’ve saved me from my eating disorder.
I don’t blame Mom. She was speaking Diet Culture so fluently that she didn’t even know that it wasn’t her native language. Her mom spoke it too.
Please, don’t let your child download this new WW (formerly Weight Watchers) app. You’d be actively helping her step into the weight cycle. I know that learning a new language is daunting. It’s not easy. At first it’s really hard. But in time it becomes so peaceful and easy. Diet Culture will start to seem archaic and barbaric.
If you want to change the talk in your house and just don’t know where to start, let’s chat. This isn’t about me selling you something. This is about me trying to fulfill my mission of raising a generation that doesn’t look to their body for their happiness, self-worth or confidence. I desperately want to stop this cycle. I don’t want them to go through what I’ve been through.
Dedicated to helping you find peace and power with your body,